A photo of two men standin on a stage. The man on the left is standing holding an award while the man on the right watches him. Behind them is a screen that reads \"STAR WARS JEDI: SURVIVOR STEPHEN BARTON & GORDY HAAB COMPOSERS)
VCUarts music alumnus Gordy Haab, left, said his mind went blank when he heard his name announced at the 2024 Grammy Awards. (VCUarts)

Two VCUarts alums win Grammy Awards

Department of Music celebrates 2000 graduate Gordy Haab and 2016 graduate Kevin Newton.

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It was a noteworthy Sunday for two music alums of Virginia Commonwealth University’s School of the Arts: They took home Grammy Awards on Feb. 4 in Los Angeles. 

In the category of Best Score Soundtrack for Video Games and Other Interactive Media, composer Gordy Haab, who graduated in 2000, and Stephen Barton were the winners for “Star Wars Jedi: Survivor.” 

“Everyone here is incredibly proud of what Gordy has achieved,” said Taylor Barnett, DMA, an assistant professor and director of jazz studies at VCUarts and a former classmate of Haab’s. 

Barnett noted that Haab frequently returns to campus to share his experiences in the industry and inspire students to achieve their dreams.  

“In light of his recent Grammy win, all of Gordy’s former professors and friends from VCU have shared a collective ‘bravo’ and ‘of course he did!’” Barnett said. 

You can watch Haab and Barton react to their win here

Also, musician Kevin Newton, who graduated in 2016, earned a Grammy as a member of the wind quintet Imani Winds. 

In the category of Best Classical Compendium, the winner was the recording “Passion for Bach and Coltrane” by Jeff Scott. The concert-length oratorio combining elements from classical and jazz music features orator and poet A.B. Spellman, Imani Winds, string quartet Harlem Quartet and jazz trio Alex Brown, Edward Perez and Neal Smith. 

“Kevin is a shining star in his generation of horn players,” said Patrick Smith, Ph.D., an associate professor of horn who was Newton’s instructor at VCU. “His unquenchable thirst to grow musically and personally made it clear to me that he was destined for great success. His dedication, humility and genuine kindness were always on display during his time at VCU and are integral components of who he is.”

You can learn more about Imani Winds here